wall and the projecting eaves. If they are rotting or soft, they may allow rain to enter your attic or atop interior walls.
Protect your house against water damage. Confirm that your downspouts are sloping away from the house and carrying water at least five feet away from foundation walls.
Position your lawn sprinkler heads so they don’t spray the walls of your house. This moisture can erode the foundation.
Inspect everything. Examine your roof carefully, looking for worn, curled, or missing shingles.
Examine window and door flashing, seals, or weather stripping. If sealants around those openings are no longer pliable, re-seal and caulk them.
More information on increasing your home’s disaster protection from hail, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfire, flooding, and water damage is available at the IBHS Website, www.disaster safety.org, or by calling 1-866-657-4247.
Routine care cuts costs. “Routine maintenance not only can protect your home’s value,” says Pittman, “it also can hold down insurance costs.”
Tillman suggests an “annual checkup” to keep your house and yard in shape. “Look at the gutters to see that they’re clear,” he says. “Check for leaky pipes, peeling paint, loose floor boards, and any signs of roof curling that may indicate rot. If someone from the insurance company comes to your house and notices these conditions, your policy could be canceled.”
You need to be especially careful about mold, which has received a lot of publicity lately as a threat to health — and has cost insurance companies hundreds of millions of dollars in claims. “Mold is a covered peril,” says Salvatore. “Nevertheless, it makes sense to take steps to keep mold under control. Mold needs water, so you should keep your eye out for water buildup. If you see it, get rid of it.”
Pay your bills. “Insurers are beginning to use credit scoring when they set rates,” says Tillman. “If you have a poor credit score, you may be considered a poor risk for homeowners insurance and have to pay higher premiums. So it’s important to pay your bills on time and maintain your credit rating.”
Keep current. “The greatest error people make with their homeowners insurance is not keeping it up to date,” says Salvatore. “They buy it and forget it. However, if you make significant additions or improvements to your home, you should buy additional insurance coverage, too.” The more valuable your home, the more insurance you should have.